How to maintain an electric car

  • Electric vs. fossil fuel car – which is cheaper to maintain?
  • How much will it cost to replace an electric car battery?
  • Maintaining an electric car
  • Can you extend electric car battery life?

When you’re thinking about purchasing a new vehicle the first concern is often ‘what happens if it goes wrong, will it be expensive?’. With electric cars becoming more common on the roads, it’s natural that one of the concerns drivers and potential buyers will have is ‘how do I maintain my electric car?’.

One long-held belief, which is a myth, about electric cars is that they are difficult and expensive to maintain. While this can be true with some of the more luxury models (the same as any luxury vehicle) electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts to go wrong and therefore will cost less to maintain.

In a study that was carried out in 2020 by the investment bank UBS, they deduced that electric cars, which will cost less to produce and, therefore, less expensive to purchase by 2024.

So, when it comes to maintenance, what sort does an electric car actually need as it doesn’t have so many moving parts to go wrong?

In this article, we’re going to look at what sort of maintenance an electric car needs, how much it will cost, and how to maintain your electric car at home.

Want to find out more about electric vehicles? Read our article for more information about the ins and outs of electric cars.

Electric vs. fossil-fuel car – which is cheaper to maintain?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not that expensive to maintain an electric car. Maintaining and working on an electric battery is actually easier than maintaining a combustion engine.

A combustion engine contains hundreds of moving parts, whereas an electric motor contains around twenty. Even better, the parts in an electric engine are much easier to replace and don’t tend to wear out quite as quickly, partially due to the fact that they aren’t constantly rubbing against each other.

However, your initial problem when it comes to having an electric car may be actually finding someone to service and maintain your vehicle.

Despite the fact that they are becoming more popular on the roads, they are still not as common as internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

The good thing is that as electric cars are becoming more popular, more garages are seeing the benefit in having staff trained in the workings of electric vehicles, which means the number of places where you can get your vehicle serviced and maintained will naturally increase over time.

Though there are fewer things that will need to be serviced in an electric vehicle, it’s important to remember that an electric car battery works in the same way as any other rechargeable battery and it will wear down over time. You won’t just get up one day and discover that your car doesn’t start because the battery no longer takes a charge, it will happen gradually, in the same way as it does for a mobile phone.

If you find that you are having to charge your car up more often, not because you’re driving long distances, then this is a sign that you need to start thinking about a new battery.

It’s estimated that an electric vehicle battery is good for about 200,000 miles (in older models the lifespan is an average of 100,000 miles), so if you’re leasing your vehicle it’s not something you’re likely to have to consider.

How much will it cost to replace an electric battery?

Electric batteries can be expensive to replace, however, now that the range is much higher, and components are becoming cheaper, the price has reduced considerably. In 2017, the battery on a Nissan Leaf cost a rather hefty £4,920 to replace under Nissan’s scheme. You also had the option to lease your battery for £55-75 a month. This option no longer exists as newer models have a longer lifespan.

Interested in finding out more about the range, charging times and availability of electric vehicles in the UK? Download our comprehensive guide here.

Maintaining an electric car

As they have fewer parts, electric vehicles are much cheaper to service, however, there are also fewer mechanics who have the experience required to service them. This is changing as electric cars become a more common sight on the roads. So, how do you get your electric car serviced?

What needs to be maintained on an electric vehicle?

Just because it’s an electric car and doesn’t have thousands of moving parts to make it work does not mean that it requires any less care and attention than a vehicle with a traditional combustion engine.

Electric cars still experience tyre wear and tear, require the replacement of windscreen wipers and brake fluid changes. According to the RAC, low tyre pressure can cause a reduction in the range you could expect, by an estimated 3%.

Like any car, an MOT will be needed after three years but with no emissions test and with fewer parts to test, repairs could be minimal.

How often should I get my electric car serviced?

When it comes to a service, your electric vehicle should be taken to a garage at the same intervals as you would take a petrol or diesel car. However, as there are fewer parts to look at and check, the services tend to be less involved.

Where should I get my electric car serviced?

It may not be possible to get your new electric car serviced at your local garage as not every mechanic has been trained in working with electric cars. It can be dangerous for them (and your vehicle) if they attempt to carry out a service without the proper training or qualifications.

You should be able to go to your nearest dealership to have your car serviced.

What happens when an electric car is serviced?

Electric cars are serviced in a slightly different way to combustion engine vehicles. There’s no oil, pistons, valves or gears.

Even better, the brakes don’t wear down as quickly either. The retarding action of the electric motor means that friction brakes are rarely used.

So, as we’ve previously mentioned, there’s not much to check. You may also find that during the service updates or upgrades to infotainment systems are installed.

How much will it cost to service my electric car?

As with a more traditional diesel or petrol vehicle, the cost of a service varies, depending on what has been found and what checks need to be carried out. However, research carried out by comparison site, Confused.com, found that on average, the cost of having your electric vehicle serviced is 23% cheaper than a petrol or diesel vehicle service. This is definitely good news if you’re thinking of getting a new electric vehicle.

Can you extend electric car battery life?

There are some things that you can do that help extend the life of the battery on an electric car, for example:

  • Avoid fully charging your electric car
    • Many EV brands advise owners to stop charging at 80%, in fact, that is the recommended charging point when at a public charging station. Though this means that your range is lower, it increases the lifespan of your battery. Not only that, but it also leaves room for the power from regenerative braking, which is turned off when the battery is full to avoid overcharging and damaging the battery.
  • Avoid running the battery down
    • Try not to let the battery run dead. Lithium-ion packs prefer partial cycles rather than completely running down. Treat your electric vehicle as you would a petrol engine, you wouldn’t let the fuel drop too low!

Looking after an electric car

There’s no big secret to maintaining your electric car, it’s pretty much the same as a standard, fuel-powered car. However, here are some of the things you can do to make sure your electric car is kept in tip-top shape:

  • Look after your tyres
    • Electric cars can be heavier due to their batteries and they also deliver instant torque which can affect the lifespan of your tyres. Avoid hard acceleration or pushing hard into a turn unnecessarily. You should also care for your tyres as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Coolant system
    • Like a fuel-powered car, electric cars with a thermal management system will need their coolant levels topped up from time to time.
  • Fluid check
    • The only other fluids that are in your electric car are the brake fluid and the windscreen washer fluid. You need to check these regularly and top them up if needed.
  • Look after your battery
    • If you follow the tips in the above section, you will prolong the life of your battery.
  • Get it serviced
    • This is the same for all cars and is the best way to keep your car in tip-top shape. Servicing does cost money, but it’s worth it in the long run.

In conclusion, the best way to maintain your electric car is to look after your battery and your tyres. You can look after your battery by making sure that you don’t fully charge it all the time but also don’t run it down so it’s dead. To keep your tyres maintained, avoid hard acceleration otherwise you will wear the tyres down.

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